“In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.” –1 Corinthians 11:18
According to research, owning a dog (or other pet) makes us healthier. Dana Casciotti and Diana Zuckerman have summarized this research in their paper “Pets and health: the impact of companion animals” (center4research.org). Among other benefits, our pets lower our blood pressure and reduce our stress. Drs. Casciotti and Zuckerman never met Lexi. Regularly attending religious services (like church) also seems to help lower blood pressure, according to researcher Daniel E. Hall (“Religious Attendance: More Cost-Effective Than Lipitor?”).* Obviously Dr. Hall didn’t go to church in Corinth. The church at Corinth was full of disagreement and dissent. Maybe your own church is plagued by division, conflict, and distrust. Maybe your blood pressure goes up when you go to church—or maybe you’ve given up altogether. I almost gave Lexi up because she stressed me out so much. Even now, walking her is more often nerve-wracking than relaxing. There are always challenges to navigate. Yet I’ve become a more forgiving, accepting, patient, and determined person because I walk with Lexi. Colossians 3:13 advises church-goers, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” There are always challenges to navigate. But we will become more forgiving, accepting, patient, and dedicated people if we walk as the Body of Christ.
Dear God, In the midst of conflict and division, teach me forgiveness and acceptance. Amen
*Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (jabfm.org)